Tell the Truth


by Mark Oestreicher

Slide1I recently came across this quote from my old boss, friend and mentor, Mike Yaconelli (Mike was something of a godfather to modern youth ministry, and the founder of Youth Specialties. He passed away in 2003.)

“What characterizes followers of Christ is that we tell the truth…. We talk about all of life. We’re not afraid that teens will see life as a struggle every day—and that it will always be so. Most of all, we point them away from us and toward Jesus…. What’s so disturbing about youth ministry today, however, is how little truth telling there is. I’ve been in youth ministry for 40 years, and I wish I could have some of those years to live over again. Oh, God, forgive me for causing your little ones to sin. Oh, God, help me to learn from my mistakes. Oh, God, in spite of me, cause all of your little ones to run into your arms. Oh, God, help us all.”

Maybe it’s with the best of intentions; but we youth workers have a tendency toward dishonesty, if we’re being honest. This is paradoxical, since we’re often the one ministry in our church most committed to honesty and authenticity (teens will not stand for less). But it’s often tempting to sugar-coat things. It’s easier, at times, to tell partial truths that preach well.

Easy answers and partial truths don’t lead to a sustainable faith.

That’s a fantastic aspect of the 30 Hour Famine: it takes an honest look at complex issues and doesn’t simply offer a band-aid.

Let’s commit to live honest lives alongside teenagers. Let’s talk honestly about the joys and struggles of the Christian life. Let’s help teens develop a robust faith in a complex world.